The Archaeology Program, a division within the Planning and Building Department, was established in April 1990 to respond to the mandates set forth in the City’s Archaeological Preservation Ordinance (APO) codified in December, 2016. The ordinance requires that all new ground-penetrating construction activities be evaluated for potential impacts to the City’s buried archaeological heritage. However, archaeological preservation is not something that became of interest and importance to the City of St. Augustine the just the last 15 years - the original Archaeological Preservation Ordinance was established in 1964!
An archaeological response occurs for those projects that occur within a designated archaeological zone and exceed more than 100 square feet in area by more than 3 inches in depth.Prior to the establishment of the program, archaeological work was contracted to a state agency for two years. Since then more than 750 projects have been conducted by the City resulting in the documentation of thousands of archaeological features and recovery of hundred-of-thousands of artifacts representing approximately 4,000 years of human occupation in St. Augustine. This irreplaceable record would have been permanently lost to growth and development concerns.
The program consists of a full-time city archaeologist and a part-time archaeological assistant. In addition, a cadre of volunteers assist the program in various tasks associated with archaeological endeavors. From field work during the hot, humid days of summer and cold, damp days of winter, to analyzing the staggering diversity and quantity of material recovered, volunteers form an integral part of the program. It is estimated that volunteers donated roughly 5,000 person-hours per year to the City.
Their efforts in supporting the City’s Archaeology Program have been recognized by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP): an agency within the Federal government. In 2014 the ACHP designated the program and volunteers as a Preserve America Steward): the 40th such recognition in the county.
To learn more about the City of St. Augustine’s Archaeology Program and APO, please visit www.digstaug.org.
Above are a series of photos associated with the historic 19th century public well located in the Plaza. Initially constructed in 1823, the well was demolished in 1881. In the mid-1990s, the City's archaeology team and volunteers excavated the well's foundations and masons rebuilt the well based on this archaeological evidence as well as archival evidence, such as historic photographs.